Friends of the Zeiss                                    

P.O. Box 1041                                                                   

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15230-1041 U.S.A.

Telephone: 412-561-7876

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2004 October 12


Bill Peduto, Chairman

Committee on General Services, Technology and the Arts

Council of the City of Pittsburgh

City-County Building, Suite 510

414 Grant Street

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15219-2457


Re: City-Owned Buhl Planetarium Equipment and Artifacts


Dear Mr. Peduto:


First, I want to, again, thank you, and your aide Missy, for the timely response to my inquiry of September 20, regarding the status and condition of three of the major pieces of historic equipment and artifacts of the original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science.


I am glad to learn that these historic Buhl Planetarium equipment and artifacts were not affected by the most recent flooding and are in good condition and being stored approximately six feet [about one-half building floor] above the 100-year flood plain. However, I am not sure this would have been enough to escape flooding during the 1972 June flood caused by the remnants of Hurricane Agnes. And, "100-year" floods seem to be coming more often these days!


Again, I note that there was no comment, by The Carnegie Science Center, regarding the list of other City-owned artifacts I provided [this list is attached], which The Carnegie Science Center moved to their new building, or to the warehouse, in 1991 or 1994.


The artifacts moved in 1991 or 1994, on this list, were all in the Buhl Planetarium building on the day of dedication: 1939 October 24. On this day, the Buhl Foundation conveyed and donated the Buhl Planetarium building, and all contents in the building, to the City of Pittsburgh. Hence, all of the artifacts listed are property of the City of Pittsburgh.


This list includes five classic Astronomy “push-button” exhibits, of the 18 such exhibits eventually displayed in Buhl Planetarium’s Hall of the Universe. It also includes a medium-sized Van de Graaff Electrostatic Generator, four Toledo Planetary Weight Scales, as well as Planetarium and Lecture Hall Sound Equipment.


The list also includes eleven paintings that have not been seen by the public since 1991! These include The Old Astronomer by Daniel Owen Stephens, which has been published in Astronomy textbooks and in a 1961 filmstrip for schools. The list also includes Copernicus, a portrait of the Polish Astronomer donated by the Polish Arts League of Pittsburgh.


The paintings also include two portraits of Henry Buhl, Jr. and one portrait of his wife, Louise. While the one portrait of Mr. Buhl hung in the second-floor Library, the other two portraits hung in the first floor’s Great Hall, for everyone to see. These eleven paintings were on display from the day the building opened [1939 October 24] until the day the building closed as a public museum [1991 August 31]. These paintings have never been displayed to the public at The Carnegie Science Center.



Bill Peduto                                             2004 October 12                                                    Page 2 of 2




Three items on this list are accounted-for, and have been displayed/used at The Carnegie Science Center for several years: 4-inch Zeiss Terrestrial Refractor Telescope, Fairbanks-Morse Planetary Weight Scale, and the large 746- pound Meteorite, the fifth largest meteorite remnant from Arizona’s Meteor Crater [although two smaller meteorites, also City property, have not been displayed and should be in storage].


Although not included in the 2002 Memoranda of Understanding between the City and The Carnegie Science Center, these artifacts are City property and should be accounted-for. Certainly, the eleven paintings would have a definite financial value.


So, with this letter, I am asking that you make another inquiry, with The Carnegie Science Center, regarding the location and condition of these additional City-owned Buhl Planetarium artifacts.


Sincerely yours,




Glenn A. Walsh\

Project Director






Copy:     Members of the Council of the City of Pittsburgh

                Tom Murphy, Mayor, City of Pittsburgh

                Tom Flaherty, City Controller, City of Pittsburgh

                Dale A. Perrett, Director, City of Pittsburgh Department of General Services

                Chester J. Malesky, Assistant Director, City of Pittsburgh Dept. of General Services

                Members of the Board of Directors, Allegheny Regional Asset District

                David Donahoe, Executive Director, Allegheny Regional Asset District

                Members of the Allegheny County Delegation, Pennsylvania General Assembly

                Members of Friends of the Zeiss

                News Media Representatives

                Interested Members of the General Public